The bonds we share with our feline friends are unbreakable, but how do we know that they actually trust us? Earning a cat’s trust is a very special honor, and when your cat trusts you, it means your cat parenting game is strong and your fluffy friend will show how they feel about you in several (often adorable) ways.
If you’re not sure whether your cat truly trusts you, read on to find out how to decipher the body language, behaviors, and vocalizations that indicate that they’ve put their faith in you entirely.
The 10 Signs Your Cat Trusts You
1. They Show You Their Tummy
Cats (unless they’re one of those cats that just seems to love everybody they come across) don’t tend to show their belly to just anyone, so if they roll onto their back in front of you, this is a sure sign of trust. This is because the belly is vulnerable, so showing it to you indicates that your cat feels comfortable and relaxed in your presence.
Be careful, though—not every cat appreciates a tummy rub, and some swipe and grab at any hands that venture anywhere close to that region. The moral of the story? Appreciate the fluffy tummy from a safe distance!
2. They Groom You
Cats groom one another not only to give a helping paw with keeping clean but also to bond and show love and friendship. So, if your cat grooms you, it’s a sure sign that they’ve bonded with you and are showing that they consider you a member of their family.
3. They’re Often Around You
Now, not every cat is a lap cat, and that’s okay—it doesn’t mean they don’t trust you. If your cat enjoys spending time close to you, whether that’s on your lap, next to you while you watch TV, or even just up on a cat tree or shelf watching (or judging) you while you go about your business, it means they’re comfortable enough around you to want to share your space.
That said, cats often value their quiet time, too, so if yours retreats to a private space sometimes, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. As long as they spend at least some time around you, you’re good.
4. They Headbutt You
When cats rub against things, they’re depositing their scent on them as a way of “claiming” them, if you will. There are scent glands in the cheeks, chin, and on the top of the head, and these glands deposit pheromones to mark that something is familiar and a part of the cat’s territory.
There are also scent glands in the base of the tail, so your cat may rub their whole body against you to get as much of that scent onto you as possible! In short, if your cat rubs their face, tail, or body against you, it’s a signal that you’ve well and truly been “chosen”.
5. They Sleep with You
Cats are the most vulnerable when they’re sleeping. Though domestic cats have nothing to fear, the instincts passed down from their wild ancestors are still very much in evidence.
To keep safe at night, your cat may choose to sleep on (oh, the joys of waking up to a face full of fluff) or next to you, or even just near you, whether that’s on your bed in the same room. This is a real honor, as it means your cat trusts you to protect them.
In cat language, a slow blink is a sign of trust and affection. You can send some of the same vibes back at your cat by slowly blinking in their direction. This is also known as “cat kisses” or the “love blink”.
7. They Bring You “Gifts”
If your cat spends outdoors, you may find yourself the “lucky” recipient of one of their kills, like a dead bird or mouse. Though these “gifts” are certainly unwelcome, they’re your cat’s way of saying they consider you a member of their family and want to share their food with you. Avoid punishing your cat for this behavior—in their eyes, they’re just making sure you don’t go hungry.
8. They Hold Their Tail Up
Cats use their tails to communicate a variety of emotions. For example, if a cat is scared or feels threatened, they may puff their tail up to increase their size and look more threatening to potential predators. A tail swishing quickly from side to side is a sign of irritation or fear.
On the other hand, if your cat holds their tail up high and straight, especially when greeting you, it means they feel happy and secure around you.
9. They Vocalize
If your cat runs to greet you at the door when you get home while meowing, chirping, or trilling, you can consider this their way of saying “I’m glad to see you”. It also likely means they want a bit of attention from you because they’ve missed you. Your cat may also “chat” with you at random intervals throughout the day just to be sociable.
On the other hand, cats sometimes meow or vocalize in other ways to let you know they need something or don’t feel well. It could be that you’re a few minutes late with their dinner (the audacity!), but, in some cases, they may be trying to let you know they’re sick or in pain, so watch out for other signs that your cat may not be quite right.
Signs a cat is in pain include withdrawing more often, being reluctant to be touched in certain areas, eating or drinking less, urinating or defecating outside the litter box, unusual postures, and showing sudden and unexpected aggression.
10. They Knead on You
When a cat kneads on you, they’re depositing pheromones on you, just like when they headbutt you, to mark you as their territory. At the same time, they’re showing that they’re completely comfortable in your presence because they trust you enough to be that close to you.
Even if your cat doesn’t do all of the things on this list, don’t worry. Every cat is unique and will show you they trust and love you in their own way. Some cats are very in-your-face with their affection, whereas others are more subtle and reserved.
The same goes for kittens—some are very confident and will quickly start sitting on you or climbing all over you (ouch), while others will hide and be tentative to come out for a while.
The key is to be patient, give your shy kitten their space, and try tempting them closer to you in “sessions” with some tasty treats over a period of time. This may take a while, so don’t be disheartened if your kitten doesn’t interact much for the first few days and weeks. A quiet, patient, and respectful approach will gradually build your kitten’s trust.
Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock